Above the empty A4 paper, only the cursor was flashing. I faced it and breathed deeply, my arms crossed.
I’d seen a lot of news over the past few years, whether it had been future news or real news, but it was not easy to write my own manuscript.
‘How can Korea respond to China’s financial crisis?’ After picking out the title and staring at the monitor for almost an hour, I turned to the right to check the current time. It was 2:00 p.m. I called in Chung So-young, and I said confidently, “I’ll send you the manuscript before you leave today, so please review it right away.” However, when I tried to write it, not a single line came out easily.
‘I said it would be there before you leave, so I have to write it within three hours or four hours at the latest… Is this what writers who suffer from writer’s block feel like?,’ I thought, my arms still crossed.
‘Shall I ask her to extend the deadline a little bit? I’m going to stop by a quiet cafe and write something tonight. Even if that’s the case, CEO Chung So-young won’t criticize me. No, I said that this morning. If I ask for an extension, my authority as the president of the parent company will be reduced. Let’s just do it. No, there’s something important going on at the company, so I could say that. Now I’m handling a billion dollars of money, and it’s more important. It’s quite thinkable. That’s right… but if I put it off like that, I won’t be able to write it.’
I’d been fighting inside myself, I took a long breath, reached for the keyboard, and managed to write the first sentence. ‘The biggest topic running through the world in this era is the hegemonic war between the U.S. and China.’
“The biggest topic that runs through the world in this era is the hegemonic war between the U.S. and China. You wrote this?” Ah-young asked me when she looked at me while looking at the Internet page with my editorial on it.
“Yes. How is it?” I said, nodding my head.
“I think you wrote it well. It’s a difficult story, but I can read it easily.”
“It’s probably because experts touched it up. It wasn’t this good at first.”
“That’s great, though. You wrote and posted it this way.”
“But writing is harder than I thought.” I smiled a bit bitterly when I saw her.
“I agree. I think I’d have a hard time writing that long. Well done, our CEO. Anyway, you wrote a good article.” Ah-young came behind me and massaged me on the shoulders.
“Hoo… but I think I’ll probably have to write three or four more times,” I said with a sigh.
“Well… because of patriotism?”
“Patriotism? What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Ah-young did not understand clearly what I was talking about, but I didn’t tell her the inside story.
“There is. It’s like… Oh, and it’s a secret that I wrote this. Don’t tell even my family or anyone else.”
“… really? Hmm. Okay.”
At my serious tone, Ah-young tilted her head, but accepted my words for now. The editorial in Oracle News was a very secret communication channel.
‘If this turns out to be my direct talking to the president, I may be caught off guard and criticized by the public. Good or bad, our people don’t have very good feelings for hidden power. In the first place, hidden power negates representative democracy.’
In any case, I regularly wrote and released the following editorials until the election and the inauguration.
[The Korean government should cut back on corporate investment in China.]
[We must be fully prepared for the financial crisis originating from China.]
[We must reduce our excessive credit and shake off false entries.]
[Now is the time to tighten up rather than invest.]
Then, the results came out, and it worked!
President Joo Sung-won, who was inaugurated as the twentieth president of the Republic of Korea in May 2021, had already put the brakes on investment into China by the government, which was implemented at the same time he formed a cabinet. Everyone was surprised. Most newly inaugurated presidents had committed to holding power while checking other powerful agencies such as the National Assembly and the prosecution office. However, he unexpectedly did something to stop overseas investment.
This caused a lot of controversy. Even a media outlet in favor of President Joo Sung-won referred to it as a “weird act,” while opposition parties criticized it, calling it an act that ruined economic exchanges with the second-largest GDP country. Even when several Chinese companies failed to repay debts from bond maturities in June, criticism of the president did not abate. Many people criticized President Joo Sung-won for making a dangerous bet that ignored China, the G2, and the hegemonic countries.
Then July came.
On July first, I sat in the conference room and was briefed by four of my closest aides.
“Most of the Chinese Inverses in the U.S. have been bought.”
“Nikkei-listed ETFs are also nearing the end of their buying sprees.”
“We’re close to our goals of buying dollars and selling the yuan.”
Five months after our first meeting in February, the investment of five billion dollars I had distributed to them was nearing completion.
“Yes, thank you all for your hard work. Please cheer up until the end,” I said in front of them. This was the beginning of the catastrophe.
But in the meantime, Director Kim, who did not understand what was going on, asked me, “Mr. President, will it be okay? Is China really going through a credit crisis?”
He still looked unsure. It was a little sad that he couldn’t trust me, but it was not something I couldn’t understand. China was the world’s fourth-largest country, with a population of 1.3 billion, and its GDP was in the midst of fiercely pursuing the United States. China’s political system was authoritative and stiff, but it also had an efficient side.
“There is also a saying, ‘Too big to fail’. We are making a little profit right now, so why don’t we stop taking it from here?” he went on to say.
So far the investments had been making a little, a little bit of income. This was because the Chinese government, which had recently seen companies going bankrupt and felt threatened, actively sought to rescue them. Of course, the investment was worth five billion dollars, so its income was worth ten million dollars.
“If the Chinese economy makes a comeback, we will suffer catastrophic damage.”
As he said, we could lose hundreds of million dollars, or a few billion dollars once we started to take losses. Those who had made 30%, 40%, 70% and 120% of profits dozens or hundreds of times would become beggars if they took 99% losses. Right now, the investment situation in Invictus Investment was ready to lose 99%. But I wasn’t worried. All the global future news was covered with China-related news, so what were the variables? Even in the Sports category such news came up: [Kim Kyu-hwan, who entered China, suffered a plunge in the yuan, and his salary plummets as well.]
That was what was going to happen. I didn’t give him a broad rebuttal. The future was inherently unknown. Director Kim was also a veteran of investments who had rolled over on this side. I understood what he meant.
I said to him, “I understand what you are saying. ‘Too big to fail’ could be true. But I’d like to think that it is not uncommon for a big horse to die, but it is impossible for two suns to float under the sky. The U.S. won’t let China grow big. What has happened in the last three years, since the U.S.-China trade war in 2018… I think it was a sort of preparation for the United States to hit China properly.”
When I said that, Director Kang slipped in this time. “Well, I agree with the CEO. I’ve been looking at Wall Street’s reaction as I invested in the U.S. To my surprise, this is happening in the U.S., too. Hedge funds are checking the yuan and China’s credit defaults. Some of them are already on sale. If they sell the yuan and play the media further, China’s credibility will deteriorate dramatically.”
Listening to what he said, I thought, ‘That’s what I expected, too.’
Other than me, there seemed to be others who had predicted the collapse of China. Hedge funds on Wall Street have no blood or tears, only thinking about yields. People in this industry don’t even blink at the death of anyone. One of the most famous people in this line is George Soros, who earned astronomical profits from selling Japanese yen during the Kobe earthquake and selling pounds when Britain withdrew from the ERM. This person has an interesting nickname, a widow-maker. It was because he predicted a national credit crisis or currency depreciation. He played the media, as he mentioned a national sell-off, the country’s unemployment rate would soar, and the heads of families would kill themselves, creating widows.
‘A widow maker…’
I thought for a moment that I might be given such a nickname. Although I was very young, I remembered things from the IMF. People around me moved away; on the other hand, there were people who came to the small Jugong Apartments near my house. My father was worried about closing the judo training center. My mother could not find even a part-time job at a restaurant. The gloomy atmosphere was all over society.
But now China looked exactly like that. At this rate, it was certain that there would be a number of unemployed people in China, people who would commit suicide, people who would suffer from depression, and families who would break up. I might be considered one of the people who caused the situation!
So I ordered, “By the way, keep our investments confidential.”
They would come to light anyway, but I wanted to hide the fact that our company had preemptively sold China before other hedge funds. In the first place, a short stock sale was an act of betting on the depreciation of something, which could be very painful for the person or nation directly involved. I just read the tenor of the times and moved on, but I didn’t want to get a nickname like a widow-maker.
Vice President Jang also spoke up, “There’s a saying that when you make a profit from the original sale, you should keep your mouth shut. That’s good for us, but it’s going to be very unfortunate for someone.”
I nodded, clasped my hands, and said, “Then I hope you all know, and keep trying.”
I got up from my seat after the short meeting. There was an anxious atmosphere that other people, including Director Kim, who had argued against me, could not rid themselves of, but I ignored it. It was not far off, anyway.
And then one day, the D-Day alarm went off on my cell phone calendar app, and the catastrophe started.
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